Change Challenges

We all know change is hard because we, all the time, try to change things only to fail after a while. Maybe we even change for a year but eventually get back to our old ways.

Our challenge to change, according to Ronald Heifetz, fall into two categories. Technical change problems and adaptive change problems.

Technical challenge:

There is known information out there for this. Someone has a protocol or a checklist or the solution can be found on Google. How to perform appendix surgery or land a plane are technical challenges. Regardless of how difficult they are, there are know solutions. 

Adaptive challenges:

Require adjusting your mindset or perspective. They require you to see things differently and understand the challenge at a more complex level.

How many people say they need to lose 20 pounds but never do? There is no shortage of technical information available to them. They have access to Keto diets, paleo diets, vegan diets, intermittent fasting, gluten free, low carb, you name it. All the information is available. But they can’t change or change for a while and revert back.

This is an example of trying to solve an adaptive problem, I need to become healthier/lose weight, with a technical solution, a diet.

Some may have success with the technical solution too. So don’t think it can’t work that way. My challenge to you, is to see where in your life you are trying to use technical answers to adaptive challenges. Maybe think of a time that you did successfully change something, how did you solve it? Was the solution technical or adaptive?

For more, check out Immunity to Change by Kegan and Lahey and Leadership without Easy Answers by Hiefetz.

Justin Miner


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